The Indianapolis Colts released Peyton Manning today. During the past season I was hoping for the Colts to get the #1 pick in this year’s draft. I am excited they are drafting Andrew Luck. I believe releasing Manning was the right thing to do. Fans of all the other scum-sucking teams would kill for a Do-Over where they get a new GM, a new coaching staff, a new defensive scheme, and a #1 pick QB all in the same offseason. Colts fans are Luck-y indeed.
It was still incredibly hard to watch the press conference this morning.
I am about to turn 30. I was in high school when Manning joined the Colts. My 20′s are forever linked to memories of Manning and the boys in blue going to war every year against the Patriots. In my 7+ years living in LA, watching Colts games with fellow Hoosiers has been the main connection to my hometown identity. Colts games are A Family Thing for me. Every touchdown pass and every interception for the last fourteen years has been a boost of emotional catharsis.
My Colts fandom is about being an Indianapolis native. I’m a Colts fan before I am a Manning fan. But I spent the vast majority of my childhood, until 2000 when the Pacers went to the NBA Finals, believing that pro-sports championships were for major cities like Chicago, New York, Houston, and Los Angeles. When I was a little kid, the Colts and the Pacers were terrible. When I was a teenager, Reggie Miller was always thwarted. On February 4th, 2007, Peyton Manning gave me that impossible boyhood dream: a championship trophy and all the tribal glory that goes with it.
It is easy to transport myself to how I felt. The emotional memory is lasting. I am sitting in a both at Barney’s Beanery with my friend Matt, starring through red eyes at HD screens while the bar empties. We are but twelve or so Colts fans in the joint. The team is passing the trophy. Words are being said. Confetti falls. We are so tired. It was so surreal… but so visceral, too.
Luck will be a great NFL quarterback. It’s possible he wins more Super Bowls than Peyton. Even if that were true, it will never be the same. You never forget your first.